8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume 1 – Review

Genre: Adventure
Developer: General Arcade , Abstraction Games
Publisher: Abstraction Games
Platform: PC, Xbox One [reviewed], PS4
Release Date: Oct 31, 2017

We are going way back to the past with 8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume 1, which if you couldn’t guess, takes us back to the days of the 8-bit era, specifically the original Nintendo Entertainment System. But those of a certain age will know the three games in this anthology better as the MacVenture series, as they appeared first on the Apple Macintosh before being ported to every possible system of the time, including that beloved NES.

What you get in this package is three of the most famous games in the series: Déjà Vu (1985), Uninvited (1986), and Shadowgate (1987), strangely the sequel to Deja Vu is missing from this anthology for whatever reason. This compilation handles the games well on modern platforms with faithful remakes of three of the best 8-bit point & click adventure games. That shouldn’t be a surprise as these games came out between 1987-1991.

Then she disappears and Uninvited basically turns into Silent Hill.

Each game surprisingly holds up well after all of these years, but some work better than others. The most famous of the three has to be Shadowgate, but I found that title to be the most frustrating of the lot. The game engine and menu system is bar far the best of the there, having learned and tweaked things from the first two games in the series, but the medieval setting really makes for a difficult game overall. In fact, I’d say it would be nearly impossible, even today, to beat the game without a walkthrough of some kind. Puzzles can be incredibly obtuse and the implementation of a countdown timer in the form of lit torches mean exploring isn’t as rewarding as it should be. Death is common in these games, but Shadowgate seems to revel in it; the torch system leading to most deaths.

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My favorite of the lot, even today, is the first entry in the series; Deja Vu. Everything about the game just makes sense, probably thanks to being a real-world crime drama that plays heavy on the noir side of things. Even though the game is seemingly set in the 1920s or 30s, the puzzles still make logical sense. There isn’t any magic to be had, or even any really obtuse puzzles to deal with. Of all of the games in the series Deja Vu would be the one I’d recommend first and the one that kids back in the days of the NES would probably actually learn something from. That said, none of these games are really for kids, especially Uninvited. Remember, this was the age before a rating system.

Deja Vu let little kids learn about getting murdered on the street on the NES…

The MacVenture series and, in turn, 8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume 1 doesn’t play around. Death is part of the game, but the ways in which you die are gruesome, even by today’s standards. You are ripped limb from limb, starved to death, burned to death, shot in the chest, and you can even commit suicide by stabbing yourself. When people talk about the NES, these three games are probably the most mature you’ll find. What’s more is that the games often show, at least in some small part, a lot of these deaths on screen. Even in 2017 a few of these made me squirm in my seat. Goodness only knows how I dealt with them as a kid.

These remakes should all be essential parts of your collection, especially if you love classic adventure games. And if you missed out on any of these, getting them in this package is a no brainer. What’s better is that this collection can be had for only $7.99 on whatever platform you want to play it on. That’s a pretty incredible deal for a bunch of hours of adventure goodness. Sure, once you beat any of the games there really isn’t a reason to go back, but each adventure is meaty enough that if you are new to each, you are going to be having quite a fun time. I even streamed the entirety of Deja Vu on our Twitch page and people had a blast trying to help me get through it.

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The black and white filter makes me want to pull out my old Mac 512k.

And as this is a remake, the whole thing comes with a number of extras, if you’re into that sort of thing. There are a bunch of achievements, including a number of them from getting killed in the various games. You also have the option to toss on some filters to make the game even more retro in its atheistic. You can warp the monitor for the tube TV feel and you can even set everything to black and white as if you were playing on an old Apple Macintosh. I stuck with the remasterd visuals without any filter as they look gorgeous up on the big TV while playing.

There is very little to complain about with 8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume 1. The remastered graphics look super sharp and the controls are smooth and responsive, as even though these games originally came out on computers, back then most didn’t use a mouse! The only quibble that keeps this pack from being truly great has to do with the Uninvited. The game itself is a macabre masterpiece of the 8-bit era, but the sound in this version is nearly broken. When too many thing are on screen it stutters and doubles up on itself and is almost painful to hear. Hopefully this can be resolved in a patch, but it’s bad enough to keep this anthology from truly being perfect.

That said, if you like adventure games or are looking to see how things used to be, you really can’t got wrong with  8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume 1. It’s one of the nicest surprises of the year for adventure game fans and I’m excited, and hopeful, that the team brings more of these classic games back into the spotlight with additional volumes.

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“8-bit Adventure Anthology: Volume 1 is a retro anthology pack done right!”

Final Score:

4/5

 

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J. Luis

J. Luis is the current Editor-In-Chief here at GAMbIT. With a background in investigative journalism his work encompasses the pop-culture spectrum here, but he also works in the political spectrum for other organizations.

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